Your son is 2 and only using a few words. Your daughter just turned 4 and your family still has difficulty understanding her speech. Your son just started kindergarten and can’t tell you about his school day when you ask.
Undoubtedly, one of the most common questions speech-language pathologists hear from parents of young children is “Should I be worried about my child’s communication skills?” Child development is a complex process that unfolds at a unique pace for every child. While the milestones children pass through are quite consistent, the exact timing children achieve milestones can vary quite a bit. Most parents know to expect some degree of variability. However, this inevitably leads to concerns at one point or another about whether or not a child is on track.
When To Contact A Speech-Language Pathologist
Parents should contact a Speech-Language Pathologist as soon as they suspect their child isn’t achieving communication milestones at a typical pace. Not after getting a friend’s opinion. Not after waiting three months for the next doctor’s appointment.
Yes, it’s possible you will be told that there is nothing to be concerned about. That’s OK. A Speech-Language Pathologist can determine if concerns about your child’s communication skills are warranted & equip you with the tools & resources you need to support your child’s development.
Early identification and intervention is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse the impact of communication disorders and give children the opportunity to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, lack of awareness of the early signs of communication disorders is identified by many professionals in the field of speech-language pathology as the leading barrier to early detection and treatment. Parents play a pivotal role in advocating for their children to ensure they get the support they need. If you have a concern about your child’s communication skills, contacting a Speech-Language Pathologist sooner, rather than later, can have a significant impact.
Learn The Basics
Learning about typical communication development is the first step to knowing when your child isn’t on track. Don’t wait for a teacher or doctor to tell you that your child is behind. Do your homework. Useful resources on typical developmental milestones are easily accessible to parents online. If you don’t have a comprehensive resource on communication development yet, here are some free resources available online to help get you started:
Typical Speech & Language Development & Speech Referral Guidelines For Pediatrics: A great online resources from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the credentialing body for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
LinguiSystems Guide to Communication Milestones: An easy-to-read & understand guide for parents. Print this guide & put it on your desktop. Come back and review it every couple of months & check in on your child’s development.
Early Literacy Milestones by Scholastic: A fabulous quick reference for early literacy milestones from birth to age 4.
Early identification and intervention matter. Take the time to find out where your child’s communication skills should be & ensure they get the support they need as early as possible. It all starts with parents.
If you or a family member have concerns about a child’s communication development, please visit http://www.asha.org/proserv/ to find a Speech-Language Pathologist in your area.
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